Which Way Do You Lean?

Hanging with my daughter and squeezing in some work. 

Hanging with my daughter and squeezing in some work. 

I am a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg - pretty much all she does, including Lean In.  I love it so much that as a developer and trainer at Birth Boot Camp DOULA, it is required reading for those coming to doula training with me.  Mrs Sandberg's thoughts apply to professional work, home life, birth . . .  really, I could just go on and on about her.  If you want to hear me do that, come to training :)

But, what I really want to write about is the recent article on New Orleans Moms Blog, "Leaning Out: Did I Make the Right Choice?"    GREAT title, right?  I really appreciate what this mom has written.  I despise the idea of mommy wars and the marketing that has perpetuated that idea.  Because really, we are all just doing what we need to do for our families and ourselves.  I am totally a mom who Leaned Out, just as Sheryl Sandberg talks about - before I even had kids.  Then, I had my first baby, tried to lean in - and well, that sent me into a mess of identity crisis and aggravated some ppd.  I have found my balance.

That's a lie.  There isn't a balance.  It is a balancing act.  And that's what I appreciate about this recent NOMB article.  I work hard to do all I can for my family while running Nola Nesting and serving all of my clients and Doulas.  Do I fall short?  Sure.  I always have more business ideas I want to tackle, things I want to work on and more stuff I want to do with my kids.  Because I am a professional and my clients and work are very important to me, I make sure I meet all of those needs.  But, I'm always adjusting.  Similar to this author who has returned to full time work for a bit after taking some time off for her family.  I know how it stimulates that part of the brain, how exciting it is and how much you miss the boring things of home life as much as you miss the great moments.  

What working from home looks like, sometimes.

What working from home looks like, sometimes.

Sometimes I rock it all!  Some days I win!  I am so happy those days.  The house is caught up, my kids are happy, I am loving being their mother and I am rocking at work.  Then, there are days that don't go so well.  Lots of calls to return, emails to write and children asking for more of me.  

I would love to see all women Lean In the way Sheryl Sandberg describes.  Isn't it great that Amanda Bensabat, the author of the NOMB article Leaned In before having kids?  She was able to Lean Out, then she could jump on a great case because of the professional work she had done before, and be able to Lean Out once again.  Sheryl Sandberg talks about staying in the workforce, fulfilling our personal achievements before we hold ourselves back for a family we don't yet have.  But, once you're there and have your family, sometimes we gotta Lean Out.  There's no easy decision.  There's no universal right.  There's only a right-for-you answer.

The good moments of professional life. 

The good moments of professional life. 

How have you handled your professional life and family?  Did you Lean In? Lean Out early?  Lean Out for your family? Or, like Sheryl Sandberg did you find your professional life an important piece to your over all happiness in your family and motherhood?  Cheers to you all!







Amanda Devereux is founder of Nola Nesting, a Doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, co-creator and trainer of Birth Boot Camp DOULA and mom of three breastfed babes.

A Sibling Doula. The Perfect Support When There's Another Babe on the Way

When your pregnant with a babe that isn't your first making plans for baby means also making plans for your children during the labor and birth. Becoming a big brother or sister is an important transition for a little one and a Sibling Doula can help make it seemless, impacting the familial balance and sibling relationship forever in a meaningful, loving way.

Children do not bring to birth the society fed fears and concerns that we do. Their honesty, open hearts and age-defying undestanding of it all is a beautiful thing to be witness to. With the right support and care children are able to fully experience and share in the experience of their sibling's birth, whether they are present for the birth or nearby eagerly awaiting the moment that they can first meet their new baby.

Juliet crafts with Franki while mom labors nearby.

Juliet crafts with Franki while mom labors nearby.

Franki Batten is both a Birth Doula and Sibling Doula. As a Sibling Doula, Franki spends time getting to know these pint sized memebers of the family during prenatal visits that are all about them and their new role. When mom is in labor Franki is there to care for the child and help them participate in the birth of their sibling as is appropriate for them and their family. Sometimes this means making a card for mom and the new baby, working on some crafts at home while mom labors in the hospital, or being with mom and offering her a cool towel for her head.

Juliet meets Ava.

Juliet meets Ava.

One of the most rewarding parts of laboring with our second child was having our 2 year old daughter, Juliet, present. Our sibling doula, Franki, with Nola Nesting made this possible. We met with Franki on a couple of occasions in preparation for Eva’s birth; her calm sweet demeanor just captivated Juliet... they were instant friends. As an already experience doula, Franki was awesome at our birth. She kept Juliet involved by encouraging her to count while mommy pushed. Franki talked to Juliet about the sounds mommy was making and why. She put a positive twist on what may have been a worrisome situation for a toddler. Since Juliet enjoys coloring and crafts, Franki captured Juliet’s attention through these activities in our labor suite while waiting for baby to arrive. It was so sweet to experience Juliet’s excitement and curiosity as she watched her sister being born. She was able to bond with Eva (“Baby Eba” as she affectionality calls her) immediately after birth. A week later, Franki visited and brought a folder containing the art projects from that day along with an outline of events from her and Juliet’s perspective. I am so glad that we found Nola Nesting and Franki to enrich our family’s birth experience.
— Anne and Adam, parents to Juliet and Eva

Whether at home or in the hospital, a Sibling Doula allows you to concentrate on the hard work of labor with the confidence that your older child is well-cared for and ready to welcome their new sibling.

Read more about Sibling Doulas here or contact us for more information.


My Grandma's Walls - The Beauty of Heirloom Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .

In a world where cameras are affordable, the digital-age has removed the pressure to selectively open the shutter and photoshop is a click away, it can be hard to see the value in professional photography. We have some incredible shots of our family that tell the story of our lives and adventures. In a time when we spend so much on so many disposable items, like the latest ipad or baby gadget, I want to spend my family’s money more carefully. I want to spend it where it will last. So why do I spend my family’s hard earned money on something I can seemingly do myself?

Because I can’t do it.

I can do a lot of things, the ability to operate a camera is among them. But, I do not have the talent to see the light, the framing, the heart of my subject and make the camera work to capture that the way my mind’s eye sees it the way a truly talented artist and skilled professional photographer can.

What I what I want is an heirloom. I don’t want a large package deal or a hundred pictures. I don’t want to pay for over-edited pictures or for someone to dump ‘professional’ shots in a photoshop package to give them all a trendy look. I am capable of taking those shots. I want my walls to have the feeling of my grandmothers’. I don’t want awkward family pictures and trendy props. I want my children, in all their creative, beautiful and spirited glory frozen in time. I want my grandchildren to see how amazing their parents were as children and see all the love and joy I find in them, how they have made me laugh and how we treasured their tiny rolls and milestones - and I want it conveyed in an image. I want to leave this heirloom for my children and theirs.

Olivia has captured the birth of my son, his newborn moments, has revealed my children’s most inner selves and captured the essence of our family in a way that we, ourselves cannot. Seeing the people I love more than anything on this earth through her lens, through her eyes, moves me in a way true art does. Not like a snapshot. I am grateful to her for sharing her gift with me and providing me the opportunity to feel the joy of my son’s birth, smell his newborn head, remember young sibling love and see how our family has grown each time I look at my wall.

So, yah, some things are expensive. And some things are priceless.

Amanda Devereux is co-owner of Nola Nesting, a doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, and mom of three breastfed babes.


Breastfeeding and the Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(New Orleans Childbirth Classes)

Breastfeeding isn't a single experience. It can be wonderful, stressful, beautiful, trying, tiring, restful and inspiring as well as many other things - in just a day!

I am saddened that another blogger experienced breastfeeding as a 'ball and chain' and that another described a 'super husband' as one who rushes in with formula to save the day. Breastfeeding is something done for the family -For a baby brought into this world who the family is responsible for feeding long after the breastfeeding relationship has ended. I have attended births as a doula, held meetings, enjoyed movies and date nights and more all while exclusively breastfeeding. There's no imprisonment here. Feeding a baby, by breast or otherwise is the job of a family.

Partners, husbands, friends, siblings - Breastfeeding isn't just mom's gig. This is about feeding and nurturing the family, and you all have a role!

Click the links below for the full blog.

See? No chains.

See? No chains.

Amanda Devereux is co-owner of Nola Nesting, a doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor and mom of three breastfed babes.


The Nurture of Women (or Redefining the Hen House)

Gatherings of women often get an unjustly bad rap - the stereotypical hen house image full of clucking, pecking, and feathers flying. Strong, assertive, expressive women are frequently (mis)labeled as "catty" and "bossy," amongst other things. This typecasting begins early in our daughters' social development with groups of girls who are just learning to navigate friendships, be it with girls or boys. I’ve already heard this in reference to gatherings of girls in my daughter’s social interactions, and these loaded words are never used to characterize boys' social behaviors. The thing is, these words do not define my experience, and I find it to be presumptuous, rude, and a very prejudicial and unfortunate way to see the world. I would tell my daughter “it’s unkind.”

The women who share in my life have been and are powerful, uplifting, and empowering. I didn’t view my grandmothers as "catty," but as loving, warm, and generous. I have amazing childhood friends, female ones, that I respect and love. Sure, there are girls I didn’t get along with, women I don’t like, and the same goes for boys and men - but it has more to do with personality and less (well, nothing) to do with gender. I could not be the mother I am without the women, the friends I cherish, mothering alongside me. As an owner of Nola Nesting, I work closely and interdependently with other women. I have so much admiration and love for these women and for all they bring to not only Nola Nesting, but to our clients. They are creative and inspiring, giving and healing women.

As childbirth educators and doulas, we celebrate the power and strength of women, their ability to transform and bring life into this world in a way done by innumerable women before them, a way the predates by millenia the medicalized model of childbirth and the categorization of pregnancy as a condition to be treated and cured. We see women at their most vulnerable and at their most fierce, and I feel nothing short of awe each and every time. I love families at births. The privilege of witnessing a person fall in love with their partner (again) and new baby is one of my favorite parts of birth, but supportive women bring a special energy to labor and birth. The women at my births were tender and held wisdom in a way my very loving, supportive, and nothing-shy-of-amazing husband could not.

To bring Birth Boot Camp to New Orleans, I attended a training in Dallas last month and was surrounded by women I had never met before. These were strong women who were there to learn more about supporting other women and families, and everyone was beautiful, loving, and supportive of one another. I truly enjoyed being in their presence and I left feeling energized and full. In our busy lives it’s not often that we get to gather and just enjoy the company of other women, each uniquely teaching and learning in our turn.

I am grateful for the women in my life, for the way they nurture and encourage me, for being sounding boards, for love and support. These are the relationships with women I want my daughter to see. Whatever she does in her life, whether suffering a broken heart, celebrating a hard-earned victory, pondering life’s meaning, or bringing a baby into this world, I hope she has a support network that includes women who love and celebrate the woman she is. And of course, should she decide to become a mother, I hope she has a doula!


(Disclosure: This blog post was edited, as is much of my work, by one of the profound women in my life.  My sister-by-another-mother - one of the most courageous and witty women I'll ever know.)


Amanda Devereux is co-owner of Nola Nesting, a New Orleans doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, and mom of three breastfed babes.